Jeff Carter’s 250th career goal, on a second period power play proved to be the difference as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Canadiens 2-1 Monday night at the Staples Center. Losa Angeles defenceman Jake Muzzin had given the Kings a 1-0 lead in the first period but P.K. Subban deflected a shot off a skate to tie the game before the period was over. It was the Kings first home ice win over the Canadiens since March 2003. Peter Budaj was in goal for the fourth consecutive game. The Kings outshot the Canadiens 22-16. The three stars were LA defenseman Drew Doughty, Carter and the Canadiens Andrei Markov.
Adding It Up –
Intensity – Hard to fault the Canadiens in this game. There was every excuse to come up short following a cross-continent flight Sunday while the Kings were at home waiting for them. They put in a solid sixty minutes and actually were the more physical team against a much larger team.
Getting It Going – The Canadiens didn’t have their legs through the first eight minutes of the game and they paid for it by giving up the opening goal of the game at 1:54. Things seemed to turn when Jarred Tinordi got into a vigorous scrap with the Kings Kyle Clifford at 8:15. From that point, the Canadiens got their neutral zone choking road game in gear. The Kings failed to record a shot until they scored the game winner of 4:54 on a second period power play. They were 16:37 without a shot.
Laying It On – The Habs, led by a punishing 34 hits from their defence, outhit the Kings 42-28 with Douglas Murray‘s eight leading the way followed by Subban (7); Emelin (5) Tinordi (4); Gorges (4) and Markov (2). Only five members of the team failed to record a hit. They even credited Peter Budaj with one.
In Goal – The players rave about how Peter Budaj gives his team a chance to win almost every night he’s in there. Same story on this night. He opened up the five hole for the first goal, but he was blocked from seeing the quick three way passing play from Martinez to Kopitar to Carter for the game winner. He then made outstanding saves on Dustin Brown late in the second, a breakaway out of the penalty box by Carter in the third and then, late in the period, somehow kept it out in a goalmouth scramble by Justin Williams, Slava Voynov and then Williams again.
Also Worth Mentioning – …… What to do about Lars Eller On a team with deeper talent, his 2 goals and 4 points in his last 33 games, he firmly place him on a fourth line. And he picked up two of the four Canadiens penalties. …..The Canadiens power play really struggled in this game. Their lack of size really was apparent as the Kings time and again muscled them off the puck. A total of two shots in three power plays, only one, by Alex Galchenyuk which wound up hitting the post was worth noting. ….The Canadiens had a total of 7:41 power play time, Subban was on ice for 5:16 of it, Markov 4:48. …….Best forwards were David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher. Interesting to note that the third member of the line Max Pacioretty didn’t record a shot on goal. …..Tomas Plekanec won 14 of 20 faceoffs – 70%.
Moving On – Doesn’t get easier. Wednesday night against Anaheim. The game will start a few hours after the NHL trade deadline passes. Twenty-four hours after that it will be the Coyotes in Phoenix before the road trip wraps up Saturday at San Jose.